👓 Chris Aldrich is reading “The Wix Mobile App, a WordPress Joint | Matt Mullenweg”

Read The Wix Mobile App, a WordPress Joint by Matt Mullenweg (Matt Mullenweg)
Anyone who knows me knows that I like to try new things — phones, gadgets, apps. Last week I downloaded the new Wix (closed, proprietary, non-open-sourced, non-GPL) mobile app. I’m always int…

👓 Chris Aldrich is reading “Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores”

Read Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores (phys.org)
At two miles long and five inches in diameter, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS) ice core is a tangible record of the last 68,000 years of our planet's climate.

Chris Aldrich is reading “Trump and American Populism: Old Whine, New Bottles”

Read Trump and American Populism (Foreign Affairs)
Two strands of populism have long thrived in American politics, both purporting to champion the interests of ordinary people. One shoots upward, at nefarious elites; the other—Trump’s tradition—shoots both up and down, targeting outsiders at the bottom of the ladder as well.
The title was a little link-baitish, but overall, this is an excellent history of the populism movement in America. Recommend.

🔖 I’ll have to get a copy of Gest’s work to read now that I’ve seen two references to it in two different articles.

My Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Two different, often competing populist traditions have long thrived in the United States. Pundits often speak of “left-wing” and “right-wing” populists. But those labels don’t capture the most meaningful distinction. The first type of American populist directs his or her ire exclusively upward: at corporate elites and their enablers in government who have allegedly betrayed the interests of the men and women who do the nation’s essential work. These populists embrace a conception of “the people” based on class and avoid identifying themselves as supporters or opponents of any particular ethnic group or religion. They belong to a broadly liberal current in American political life; they advance a version of “civic nationalism,” which the historian Gary Gerstle defines as the “belief in the fundamental equality of all human beings, in every individual’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in a democratic government that derives its legitimacy from the people’s consent.”

Although Trump’s rise has demonstrated the enduring appeal of the racial-nationalist strain of American populism, his campaign is missing one crucial element. It lacks a relatively coherent, emotionally rousing description of “the people” whom Trump claims to represent.

By invoking identities that voters embraced—“producers,” “white laborers,” “Christian Americans,” or President Richard Nixon’s “silent majority”—populists roused them to vote for their party and not merely against the alternatives on offer.

For much of his campaign, his slogan might as well have been “Make America Hate Again.”

According to a recent study by the political scientist Justin Gest, 65 percent of white Americans—about two-fifths of the population—would be open to voting for a party that stood for “stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, preserving America’s Christian heritage, and stopping the threat of Islam.”

This is the second article in the same issue of Foreign Affairs that’s quoting this same statistic from the same paper. [1] [2]



J. Gest, “Why Trumpism Will Outlast Donald Trump,” POLITICO Magazine, 16-Aug-2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/why-trumpism-will-outlast-donald-trump-214166#ixzz4HVdcw5u3%C2%A0. [Accessed: 12-Dec-2016]
J. Gest, The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality. Oxford University Press, 2016.

👓 Chris Aldrich is reading “Progressive Web AMPs”

Read Progressive Web AMPs (Smashing Magazine)
PWA or AMP? Both! Let's combine progressive web apps and AMP to provide fast experiences on the web, with all the whistles and bells of native apps.

👓 Chris Aldrich is reading “A Cassandra in Trumpland: Sarah Kendzior’s Pithy Commentary on Privilege”

Read A Cassandra in Trumpland: Sarah Kendzior's Pithy Commentary on Privilege by Omair Ahmad (The Wire)
Kendzior's collected essays, "The View From Flyover Country", condemns a system so blind to its own faults that it punishes people as “failures” for playing in a game that is rigged against them.

👓 Chris Aldrich is reading “Populism on the March”

Read Populism on the March (Foreign Affairs)
Donald Trump’s candidacy is part of a broad populist upsurge throughout the Western world. Economic stasis and rapid cultural change have provoked a backlash across Europe and North America, and enlightened leadership will be needed to respond to legitimate grievances without pandering to the public’s worst instincts.
This is one of the most sane analyses I’ve seen in a while about what is happening in the world. I recommend it highly.

My Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Trump’s political genius was to realize that many Republican voters were unmoved by the standard party gospel of free trade, low taxes, deregulation, and entitlement reform but would respond well to a different appeal based on cultural fears and nationalist sentiment.

The number of immigrants entering many European countries is historically high. In the United States, the proportion of Americans who were foreign-born increased from less than five percent in 1970 to almost 14 percent today. And the problem of illegal immigration to the United States remains real, even though it has slowed recently. In many countries, the systems designed to manage immigration and provide services for integrating immigrants have broken down. And yet all too often, governments have refused to fix them, whether because powerful economic interests benefit from cheap labor or because officials fear appearing uncaring or xenophobic.

For the vast majority of human history, people lived, traveled, worked, and died within a few miles of their birthplace. In recent decades, however, Western societies have seen large influxes of people from different lands and alien cultures.

There is a reality behind the rhetoric, for we are indeed living in an age of mass migration. The world has been transformed by the globalization of goods, services, and information, all of which have produced their share of pain and rejection. But we are now witnessing the globalization of people, and public reaction to that is stronger, more visceral, and more emotional.

Voting patterns traditionally reinforced this ideological divide, with the working class opting for the left and middle and upper classes for the right. Income was usually the best predictor of a person’s political choices.

The most striking findings of the paper are about the decline of economics as the pivot of politics.

The shift began, as Inglehart and Norris note, in the 1970s, when young people embraced a postmaterialist politics centered on self-expression and issues related to gender, race, and the environment. They challenged authority and established institutions and norms, and they were largely successful in introducing new ideas and recasting politics and society. But they also produced a counterreaction. The older generation, particularly men, was traumatized by what it saw as an assault on the civilization and values it cherished and had grown up with. These people began to vote for parties and candidates that they believed would, above all, hold at bay these forces of cultural and social change.

This convergence in economic policy has contributed to a situation in which the crucial difference between the left and the right today is cultural.

The most widely held job for an American male today is driving a car, bus, or truck, as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson has noted.

That slower growth is coupled with challenges that relate to the new global economy. Globalization is now pervasive and entrenched, and the markets of the West are (broadly speaking) the most open in the world. Goods can easily be manufactured in lower-wage economies and shipped to advanced industrial ones. While the effect of increased global trade is positive for economies as a whole, specific sectors get battered, and large swaths of unskilled and semiskilled workers find themselves unemployed or underemployed.

Today, an American’s economic status is a bad predictor of his or her voting preferences. His or her views on social issues—say, same-sex marriage—are a much more accurate guide to whether he or she will support Republicans or Democrats.

👓 Chris Aldrich is reading “South Korea’s Shamanic Panic”

Read South Korea's Shamanic Panic (Foreign Affairs)
For over a month now, South Koreans have been asking a rather unusual question for citizens of a modern democracy: whether their president, Park Geun-hye, could have been under the influence of the supernatural while in office.

Chris Aldrich is reading “How Donald Trump is changing the rules for American business”

Read The president and corporations: How Donald Trump is changing the rules for American business (The Economist)
HIS inauguration is still six weeks away but Donald Trump has already sent shock waves through American business. Chief executives—and their companies’ shareholders—are giddy at the president-elect’s promises to slash burdensome regulation, cut taxes and boost the economy with infrastructure spending.
This article takes much the same view of Trump’s economic policies as I (and I’m sure many) do. I’ve been hoping every day for more than a year and a half that more politicians would take Cesar Hidalgo’s book Why Information Grows as the basis for their economic policies. Alas…

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

American capitalism has flourished thanks to the predictable application of rules. If, at the margin, that rules-based system is superseded by an ad hoc approach in which businessmen must take heed and pay homage to the whim of King Donald, the long-term damage to America’s economy will be grave.

Such tariffs would be hugely disruptive. They would make goods more expensive for American consumers. By preventing American firms from maximising their efficiency using complex supply chains, they would reduce their competitiveness, deter new investment and, eventually, hurt workers’ wages across the economy. They would also encourage a tit-for-tat response.

The role of lobbyists will grow—an irony given that Mr Trump promised to drain the Washington swamp of special interests.

Nonetheless, Mr Trump’s approach is worrying. Unlike the Depression, when Hoover and then Roosevelt got companies to act in what they (often wrongly) saw as the national interest; or 2009, when Mr Obama corralled the banks and bailed out Detroit, America today is not in crisis. Mr Trump’s meddling is thus likely to be the new normal. Worse, his penchant for unpredictable and often vindictive bullying is likely to be more corrosive than the handouts most politicians favour.

Mr Trump’s mercantilism is long-held and could prove fierce, particularly if the strong dollar pushes America’s trade deficit higher (see article). Congress would have only limited powers to restrain the president’s urge to impose tariffs. More important, even if rash protectionism is avoided, a strategy based on bribing and bullying individual companies will itself be a problem.

But over time the damage will accumulate: misallocated capital, lower competitiveness and reduced faith in America’s institutions. Those who will suffer most are the very workers Mr Trump is promising to help. That is why, if he really wants to make America great again, Mr Trump should lay off the protectionism and steer clear of the bullying right now.

Chris Aldrich is reading “Lulu.com launches academic service suite – Glasstree”

Read Lulu.com launches academic service suite – Glasstree by David Haden (News from JURN.org)
The leaders in affordable print-on-demand, Lulu.com, have just launched a book publishing service for academics. Glasstree offers the… “tools and services needed by academic authors, an…